For a long time, the idea of a gaming laptop was scoffed at. The general consensus among PC gamers was that you couldn’t stuff enough power into a tiny case and even if you could, there’s no way you could keep the components cool enough while running. Times have changed, though. With better technology, gaming laptops are now one of the most popular segments of PC sales.
If you’re in the market for a new gaming laptop, here are some of the best options that can be had without completely breaking the bank. These are widely regarded as “middle of the road” models – they will run most games on fairly high quality settings, but aren’t the creme de la creme of gaming machines.
What to Look For in Gaming Laptops
Before we start listing models, here’s some general words of wisdom on how to shop for a gaming laptop. You’re generally looking at a few main components – the CPU, RAM, and GPU (graphics card). After that, things like HDD (or SSD) size and display come into play too.
Some of these models come in different set-ups. For example, an Acer Predator with only 16 GB RAM and a 500 GB HDD will cost less than the same model with 32 GB RAM and a 1 TB SSD. The specific GPU a gaming laptop ships with will also play a big part in the price.
A Note On Pricing
As we just mentioned, a lot of things can factor into the price of a gaming laptop. The machines on this list were all priced under $2,000 when this article was written. However, slight configuration changes could alter the price in the future.
On the other hand, these prices could also go down. Models go on sale all the time, especially around Black Friday. Newer, updated models also come out all the time, allowing vendors to put discounts on previous versions (much like the annual cycle of new vehicles). Anyway, enough of the preamble – here are the best gaming laptops under $2,000 you can buy today.
11. Razer Blade 15 (2021)
The Razer Blade 15 is a common choice among laptop gamers. The 15.6-inch display features a 165Hz refresh rate, which will make your games look great. It also boasts an Intel i7 8-core processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPU – plenty strong enough to power any game out there.
This version comes with various storage options, but look for one with at least 500 GB SSD. The only real downside is that the stock speakers aren’t anything special and the keyboard doesn’t include a number pad (although it does have snazzy RGB backlighting). Otherwise, the Razer Blade 15 is a great choice.
10. ASUS ROG Strix G5
The ASUS ROG Strix is another great 15” gaming laptop. Highlights of this model include an AMD Ryzen 9 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1 TB SSD of storage space, and the same GeForce RTX 3070 found in the Razer Blade 15.
One notable upgrade, though, is the 300Hz refresh rate on the screen. Your games will look so smooth with this kind of technology. Gigabit Wi-Fi 6 allows the ROG Strix to maintain a strong connection to your router during online sessions. This machine also comes with a great cooling system (necessary for long gaming sessions).
9. Acer Predator Triton 300
Acer’s emergence into the PC gaming industry has been a major success. Their Predator lineup of laptops remain a popular choice for gamers everywhere. It features a 144Hz display, an Intel i7-10750H CPU, a GeForce TRX 2070, 32 GB RAM, and a 1 TB SSD. In short, this thing is powerful.
The RGB backlit keyboard features customizable lighting effects (plus they even squeezed in a number pad, for those who prefer it). The only real drawbacks of the Triton 300 is that the fans are quite loud when they get spinning at high speeds. Sure, they keep your laptop cool, but hopefully you’re using a decent set of headphones to drown out the noise.
8. HP Omen
Even HP – the company that was formally synonymous with making your office printer – now offers a gaming laptop. And it’s actually really good. The HP Omen features a 165Hz display, Ryzen 9 5900HX 8 Core CPU, a GeForce RTX 3070, and 16 GB RAM. There’s also a 1 TB SSD storage device.
Reviewers have praised the Omen’s display as one of the best. Even the built-in speakers sound great, which is an area that some other laptops skimp out on. The one knock on the Omen, though, is that it can get very hot during long gaming sessions. Make sure you use it in a well ventilated space.
7. MSI GF75 Thin
MSI might not be a well-known name for general electronics, but gamers definitely recognize it. The GF75 Thin is one of the rare 17” laptops that still comes in under $2,000. It has many of the features you would expect – 144Hz refresh display, Intel i7 10750H CPU, a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16 GB RAM, and a 512 GB SSD.
For gaming specific tasks, there’s a dedicated button to boost the cooling fans. There’s also a customizable RGB keyboard (which is extremely responsible and durable). For a powerful gaming laptop, the MSI GF75 stays surprisingly cool. The only real criticism to be found is that the battery life is average, at best. But that’s really a very tiny complaint.
6. Dell G15
The Dell G15 is another fine gaming laptop under $2,000. It features an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, and a whopping 64 GB RAM. There’s even a 1 TB SSD inside.
What’s not to love? Well, it’s a bit heavier than average, at 5.39 pounds. It also tends to get quite hot, which could put a pause on your gaming experience (or even worse, damage PC components). Still, the G15 is a great combination of power and functionality for anyone who likes to do a bit of gaming after work (or a bit of work after gaming).
5. Acer Nitro 5
If the Acer Predator Triton 300 was a little too intimidating for you, the Nitro 5 might be a more subtle choice. It still features a 15.6-inch, 165Hz display, a Ryzen 7 5800H CPU, and a GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. There’s also a 1 TB SSD and 16 GB RAM inside.
The Nitro features a programmable RGB keyboard and Acer’s “Killer Ethernet E2600” for maximizing network bandwidth during gaming. The Nitro 5 also has above-average battery life, which is great for anyone who regularly games away from a power outlet.
4. Alienware M15 R6
At one point, Alienware was the premier brand for PC gaming – both laptop and desktop. Since then, though, the company has been bought by Dell. Some old school PC gamers swear that Alienware products just aren’t quite as good as they used to be. However, the M15 R6 might change their mind.
This stylish laptop comes with an Intel i7-11800H CPU and a GeForce RTX 3060. The 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD will keep your games running quickly and smoothly. Another nice bonus is the 240 Hz refresh rate on the display. Maybe Alienware is determined to fight off newer competitors and remain the top brand for PC gaming?
3. MSI G66 Leopard
Another MSI model makes our list. This time, it’s the G66 Leopard. If the 17-inch MSI mentioned previously is too big for you, this 15.6-inch laptop will more than do the trick. It has all the usual features – a 144Hz display, an Intel i7-11800H CPU, a GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card, 16 GB Ram and a 512 GB SSD.
The G66 also has a customizable RGB backlit keyboard and a smooth matte black finish that make it look sleek and sophisticated. Some reviewers suggest the fans can get a bit loud when processing gets intense, but honestly, that’s fairly normal with any gaming laptop.
2. GIGABTYE AERO 15 OLED
Gigabyte is a brand more well-known for super expensive, high-end gaming laptops. You wouldn’t normally find one of their products on a list of machines that sell for less than $2,000. That’s why the AERO 15 OLED is such a nice surprise.
The highlight of this beast is the 15.6-inch 4K UHD AMOLED display. You won’t find a better screen on a gaming laptop anywhere else! On the inside, there’s an i7-11800H processor and a GeForce RTX 3070 GPU. Throw in 16 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD, and the AERO 15 is a no-nonsense gaming monster.
1. ASUS ROG Zephyrus
We’ll finish out our list with the smallest offering. The ASUS ROG Zephyrus offers the most mobility and portability, with a compact 14-inch, 144 Hz screen. Don’t let the small size fool you, though, because this gaming laptop still packs a lot of power.
There’s an AMD Ryzen 9 5900H CPU, a GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16 GB RAM, and a massive 2 TB SSD for storage. The ROG Zephyrus also doesn’t look like a gaming PC. There’s no fancy RGB lighting or anything. At first glance, it just looks like a normal silver-colored laptop. So if you like gaming, but aren’t a fan of the gaming subculture trends, this might be the laptop for you.